Nicole was pursuer, jury told Trial hears a lurid tale of sex, drugs

  Jonathan T. Lovitt ; Richard Price


  USA Today


  Page 03A

  (Copyright 1996)


  SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Slain 28 months ago, Nicole Brown Simpson

  nevertheless took the brunt of a punishing opening statement here Thursday from

  O.J. Simpson's lawyer, who characterized her as a lost and moody woman who

  traveled in a dangerous world of booze, drugs and sex.


  Moreover, lawyer Robert Baker told jurors, it was Nicole -- and not her

  ex-husband -- who entertained an imbalanced obsession with Simpson. ``She was

  the pursuer,'' Baker told jurors. And their ``rocky moments'' were largely the

  result of Nicole Simpson's ``stormy personality.''


  Although Simpson critics long expected such an attack, lawyers in his criminal

  trial bypassed the strategy. But Baker rushed right to it in his opening statement

  for the wrongful-death suit against Simpson in the deaths of his ex-wife and her

  friend Ron Goldman.


  ``It was as close to calling her a slut as you can be,'' said Laurie Levenson, dean

  of Loyola Law School.


  The strategy has two goals, say the experts. First, it's designed to erase Simpson's

  alleged motive for murder. On Wednesday, lawyers for the Goldman and Brown

  families -- who filed the suit -- said Simpson killed his ex-wife because she

  ended their relationship. Baker's version: Nicole was the aggrieved partner.


  The other goal, experts say: Convince jurors that Nicole's lifestyle led her into

  the path of a killer. ``She was partying with people she didn't know anything

  about,'' he said.


  As soon as the assault began, Nicole's mother, Juditha, began to cry. At the first

  morning break, she and Nicole's sister, Denise, walked out and never came back.

  Ron Goldman's father, Fred, and stepmother, Patti, didn't return from lunch.


  By the afternoon session the only family members remaining were Goldman's

  sister, Kim, and his mother, Sharon Rufo. Sitting separately, the pair cried

  periodically. Kim's face was beet red the entire day, and she glared continuously

  at Simpson, who was heard complaining about it. During a break, while eyeing

  Simpson in the hallway, she asked a reporter to move aside. ``You're in my line

  of fire.''


  Along the way, Baker also lashed out at Nicole's friends, particularly Cora

  Fischman and Faye Resnick, who are to testify against Simpson. Fischman, he

  said, used Nicole as an alibi to her husband because she was having an affair.

  And Resnick, he told the jury, ``was heavily into drugs."


  But it was Nicole who came under the sharpest attack. She had ``a lot of men . . .

  and when she had boyfriend problems, she went to O.J. Simpson.''


  This behavior, Baker implies, explains why Simpson occasionally burst in to his

  ex-wife's home or appeared to be spying on her. He was concerned for his kids.


  But for all of Nicole's alleged misconduct, Baker said, she still loved Simpson

  and wanted him back. She followed him once to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. She

  always came up with reasons to drop by the house -- baking him cookies or

  dropping off videos for the kids.


  Why did she want him? Because, Baker said, together ``their life was a terrific

  one. They loved each other . . . but they both had very strong personalities.''

  PHOTO, B/W,Reed Saxon,AP; PHOTO, B/W,Mark J. Terrill,AP; Caption:

  Trial's second day: Lawyer Daniel Petrocelli and plaintiffs Fred and Patti

  Goldman arrive at court Thursday, followed by an unidentified associate and the

  Goldmans' daughter, Kim, second from right. Simpson: Gives thumbs-up to

  supporters Wednesday